Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Hair of Harold Roux

Thomas Williams wrote his National Book Award winning novel The Hair of Harold Roux decades ago, yet it remains a richly fascinating and relevant work of literature today. 

There are stories within stories, 5 in all, woven together to create a ponderous exploration of life's struggles and mysteries. From the opening sentence - Aaron Benham sits at his desk hearing the wrong voices. - to the touching afterword written by his daughter, this book was captivating. There were so many intricate details to absorb, words and ideas to ponder, character motivations to analyze, fictions versus realities to discern, symbols of warm fires and the chill of absolute zero, twists of fate and luck, all written by a master. I took pages of notes as I read, not so much to help me write a review as to help me remember the unique and meaningful prose.

I was often reminded of the rich detail and style of John Irving, and was not surprised to learn he was a former student and friend of Williams. Thomas Williams never achieved Irving's commercial success in his lifetime, but based on this work, he should have. This is a highly recommended, well written novel.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Most Useful Read of 2011

Although this should be a quick read, I've been taking my time to let the lessons sink in. From an overview of Buddhism to a variety of coping mechanisms, this book is filled with useful advice for accepting not just the aging process, but life in general. I enjoyed the personal reflections and the case studies provided by the author, Lewis Richmond, and gained new perspectives that I expect to use throughout my life. This is the first book I have read on this topic, and it was a great starting point for me, as it was not too technical or preachy, just honest, practical and caring. I would recommend this book to anyone facing a mid-life crisis, a spiritual crisis, health problems, or frustration with the aging process.